Why they can’t Coexist….

Found this on Facebook. Just wanted to transcribe it here, partly because a friend couldn’t clearly see the text on Facebook 😀
Why they can't coexist meme image

Why They Can’t Coexist. Original, apparently from Truth-Saves.com.

The texts of [Christianity], [Islam] and [Judaism] order the elimination of [equality], [paganism], and of each other. Both [Islam] and [Christianity] claim to be religions of [Peace], but [Peace] is a world without [Islam] and [Christianity].

[Islam] and [Judaism] have conflicting promises of land ownership. [Paganism] is a very broad term but all of [Paganism] support living by non-evidence-based-claims, causing conflicts for [Peace]. [Taoism] says to find harmony in everything, good or bad, preventing the seeking of [Peace] and [Equality]. The less a self-proclaimed follower of [Christianity], [Islam] or [Judaism] actually follows the teachings of [Christianity], [Islam] or [Judaism] the more [Peace] and [Equality] can thrive.

[Christianity], [Islam] and [Judaism] claim their way is the only way and cannot coexist with anyone. [Taoism] can only coexist with the [Pagans] who also follow [Taoism]. [Equality] can coexist with most of [Paganism]. The only ones that allow for completee coexistance with each other are [Peace] and [Equality], and the unmentioned [Atheism] and [Humanism].

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The problem with the new atheist movement is…

I had a short conversation with a good friend yesterday which consisted of him (an atheist) telling me that the problem with the atheist movement is that they don’t provide an alternative option to replace the role that religion has fulfilled in our society for so long.

I often have atheist friends tell me that the new atheists are doing it wrong. That they should be doing X other thing instead of what they are doing, or that they should also be doing Y, or that they are wasting their time because some particular philosopher destroyed the notion of God hundreds of years ago, so this is all old news.

All of these sorts of criticisms of the new atheist movement strike me as exceedingly odd.

It is like claiming that climate change activists are doing it wrong because they aren’t personally replacing the coal and petroleum industry with an alternative energy infrastructure. It is like claiming that websites like Skeptical Science are a waste of time because climate scientists have known for decades that climate change is caused by humans. I never heard climate change advocates making these arguments because it is obvious that they are nonsensical. The alternatives exist independent of the activists, and the scientific consensus isn’t reflected in public opinion – therefore the activism is still needed! The atheist movement is no different.

So, when I hear that the new atheists should provide an alternative structure to religion, I think: No, that already exists. It comes from philosophy (morality), science (explanations of the world), sports teams, family, hobbies groups, etc (community). The atheist agenda isn’t to transform society – it is simply to fight for representation in a society which has clearly declared that non-belief is unacceptable, untrustworthy and to be despised.

My understanding is that the atheist movement as we currently know it was basically started by Dawkins giving this TED talk. I think he very clearly outlines why we need this movement, and what its objective is. And I agree completely with him.

Religions cause people to make decisions which harm themselves and people around them, and they do so because they believe that the creator of the universe commands it. They don’t do it because they are intentionally trying to harm people, or because they are necessarily biggoted – they do it because the book commands it.

Yes, there is overlap. Yes, sometimes bigoted people will use the bible to justify their bigotry (as if that is much better), but just as often people will be bigoted just because they believe that the creator of the universe has commanded them to be!

How do you rationally argue against that?

You can’t. You literally cannot make a single argument against “I have to be a bigot, because the creator of the universe has told me that I must behave this way.” The basis of the position is not founded on rational thought – it is founded on authoritarian command. Therefore the only way to correct the erroneous bigoted position, is to undermine the authoritarian command itself. You have to show that the belief in the commander is false. It is the only viable option.

Let’s make this crystal clear. At the very same party where this criticism of the new atheists took place, another good friend pointed out that she was a feminist prior to discovering christ herself and becoming a true believer. In doing so, despite it going against everything she felt and believed, she knew that because God was real and because the Bible was his true word, she must submit herself to her husband, she must see gay people as sinners, and other such commanded positions. These were not positions she wanted to hold – it was just what the bible very clearly told her.

Multiply that experience across the population, and you now have a basis for terrible laws and government policy which leads to vilification and sexism.

Or, lets look at another example of religion doing harm. As I write this article a news story is running about a Jehovah’s Witness family denying their son a blood transfusion. This will kill their son. Do you think they actually want their son to die? Do you think they have some sort of weird bigotry against blood transfusions?

No. They just believe that the creator of the universe has commanded them to do this, so they are obeying the command.

You cannot rationally argue against this position. You can only rationally argue against the underlying belief in a universal creator and master.

And that is what the atheist movement is all about. Fixing the actual problem.

For too long religion has influenced politics, law and social convention despite evidence. And as the “Nones” have grown in number over the decades, their influence has stayed non-existent. This is the problem. This is what the atheist movement cares about.

If you too are worried that the atheist movement might be wildly successful, and leave devastation in their wake as millions of people wake up without religious structures to prop up their meager existence – then go and start your own Humanism Organisation which provides everything religion does, just without the God stuff, and fill that gap. Just don’t be surprised when you find out people are surprisingly capable of filling the gap all on their own with the innumerable other options which already exist.

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Why Militant Atheism is Necessary

Militant Atheism is necessary as a force to counteract the unbalanced political and social power that popular religious belief systems have wielded for too long through their powerful standardising of beliefs. It is impossible to persuade people to change their point of view when their point of view is not actually their own and they don’t care about the subject matter. As such, the only option left is to challenge the foundation of the belief structure itself so as to undermine the authority of the people who decide what their followers should and should not believe.

For, Against and Other

It is true that on any contentious point you will get people with extreme points of view on each side. You will also get a lot more people right in the middle who don’t care, and then a complete spectrum in between of people who care, and may have opinions leaning one way or the other. What matters though, is that most of these people, particularly those who are not in the ‘extreme point of view’ position, can have their views changed by evidence and reason.

Where Religion changes this game, is how it allows large numbers of people to be made to believe the same position, often to the ‘extreme’ point, just by asserting that it is true and providing a bible quote or two. And it really only works with holy texts too. If you get a group of climate change deniers together, and tell them that they should also understand that abortion is fundamentally wrong – then it is unlikely that the assertion will carry any sway with them. There is no reason for that common belief system about climate change to carry over in to the world of the abortion debate. There is no reason to accept the claims of the ‘leader’ in this scenario… but when the leader is actually representative of “God” or a “holy text” or any other sort of manuscript which is somehow meant to hold the secrets of life (in an absolute sense) – then suddenly the leader, who has some sort of special ability to understand, or interpret or present the information known to God or the Holy text/manuscript, can make just about any claim on any topic – because God does actually cover everything… All topics are in fact related to ‘God’.

Every Belief is Related to God

So, religious institutions have a special belief power over people. As soon as someone gives over their ‘Everything belief’ to God or the Bible or the Koran etc, then when their religious source says “Homosexuality is evil”, then the most ambivalent person on earth on this topic is very strongly inclined to simply accept this claim as fact. After all, who can argue with God?

Of course not all people agree about all things in religion. Hence the two great schisms in Christianity. And the break between Judaism and Christianity. And ditto again with Islam. And all of the different forms of Hinduism and Buddhism. And the different denominations of Christianity and Judaism and Islam… etc.

So there may very well be a form of each religion for each specific combination of beliefs. To an extent anyway. But I don’t think most people feel free to ‘shop around’ for their belief system. Most people are born in to it. Or stumble in to it haphazardly – converted to ‘Christ’ by some major life changing experience you don’t usually stop to analyse all of the sub-beliefs that go with the church that you just happened to walk in to. So you end up in some belief system which tells you that slavery is actually OK in Gods eyes… Sorry, wait…no one (publicly) believes that one anymore, so I should use a more modern example. You walk in to a church that believes that homosexuality is a sin and that homosexuals are going to suffer for eternity in hell. Now thanks to your recent “Finding God” experience, you are open and ready to receive the word of God!! Hallelujah! And after all of the niceties and meeting all of the wonderful smiling people, and hearing how loving and wonderful and forgiving God is, and Good and all of that great stuff… you eventually find out that homosexuals are evil and going to hell.

“…That’s odd. I’ve never really though about homosexuality before.” you might think. Maybe never encountered it much – or when you did, simply didn’t care. But now… well now you know that God has ordained it. You know the truth… because “God said it”. The fact that it is people telling you this is irrelevant – they are simply relating to you God’s own words. So what on earth can you do other than believe them????

How long do you think it will take to turn someone who has never given the slightest shit about someone else’s sexuality and private life before, into someone who thinks the homosexuals are evil, when they are surrounded by other people who have been similarly brainwashed by rhetoric claimed to be in the name of the central belief?

The logical cause here is very straight forward.

  1. You believe <religious concept> is true.
  2. Leader of <religious concept> states that <belief>, because <religious concept>
  3. You believe <belief>.

So in order for someone to challenge <belief>, arguing against topics related to the belief is a waste of time: they aren’t the reasons the belief is held. You have to argue against <religious concept> or the leader, because those things are the actual logical causal reason for the belief to be held.

Christians who are disgusted by homosexuals are not disgusted by homosexuals because of anything homosexuals have ever done – they are disgusted by homosexuals because of what their religious leaders have told them. To argue with them about how homosexuality is just a private lifestyle that has nothing to do with them is to miss the point – they don’t CARE about that. What they care about, is their belief system itself. If you want to argue about homosexuality with a Christian who ”hates fags”, then you have to argue about Christianity.

Why This Matters

This matters because the beliefs of the people, determine the policies of the Governments. And when beliefs are artificially created by powerfully people within religious organisations, politics is affected in an imbalanced way. It is imbalanced, because politics engages in the actual topic itself – it will engage in arguments about gay marriage, on the terms of gay marriage. But when the argument isn’t actually about gay marriage, the political process is a complete waste of time. Politicians simply cannot engage in a campaign for Gay marriage, and then spend their time pointing out all of the flaws in Christianity. It isn’t acceptable, and won’t work either. But that is what needs to be done, because the people who are stopping gay marriage equality are doing so because of their religious beliefs, not because of the stuff the politician is talking about.

The idea of how our democratic system is meant to work, is that the differences in opinions held by it’s constituents are the fuel for the debate and are the basis of debate. Differences in opinion are acceptable, and entirely part of the system – but what is far more important than holding different opinions, is the opportunity to change opinions. Whether they be the opinions of the extremes, or simply swaying the opinions of the people in the middle who don’t really care – as long as evidence, facts, reason and logic can be used to sway numbers to a particular belief about contentious points. And as soon as disproportionate numbers of people have their beliefs determined by an external influences in such a way so as to prevent a change in belief…. then democracy cannot work. Instead, we have a democratic portion of the population, constantly dragging a theocratic portion along with it.

The Real World

There is no better example of this than the Gay Marriage debate. This is the sickest of sick public policy debates to waste anyone’s time in the last few decades. (I wanted to say ‘ever’, but I quickly remembered women’s rights (another Religious doctrine maintained that fight for a while) and before that, slavery (yet another religious doctrine kept that one alive way too long too)).

You see, for this debate, just like women’s rights and slavery, there were people who saw the injustice of the old system, and there were bigots who simply didn’t like the idea of giving equal rights to people who they viewed as lesser than themselves. These two roles exist with and without religion. And if religion was taken off the table, then I think the number of people supporting gay marriage would drastically out number the people who are against it, and the number of people in the middle who don’t care would simply vote for it, because it won’t harm them and will give rights to more people. Problem solved. But because religion is involved, a ‘debate’ rages on the topic as if there is actually some sort of pro and con analysis going on here.

There isn’t!

It is just complete BULLSHIT coming from religious flocks who think that homosexuals don’t deserve the same treatment as them because someone in power has convinced them that ‘God’ said that homosexuals are an abomination. And because of that a priori assertion of lesser value, they then attempt to shackle together ridiculous arguments to rationalise their position after the fact.

Nonsense like “Gay marriage will destroy the institution of marriage” – Yeah bullshit. Tell that to the 50-70% divorce rate already in existence amongst heterosexuals. I feel stupid even pointing that out, because everyone knows that argument is complete rubbish and how ‘destroyed’ the sacred institution of marriage already is!

The point here is that all of the powerful counter arguments made against the ridiculous arguments made by the ‘religious right’ who are 95% of the time behind the anti-gay-marriage movement – are almost completely a waste of time. As articulate and clever, and cutting and poignant and perfect as they are – they are completely wasted. Because the people they are ‘arguing’ against, don’t actually care. They don’t hold the belief themselves. They were never convinced that homosexuals shouldn’t be married – they are simply following the belief pattern handed off to them by their religious leader.

You cannot argue against someone, who doesn’t care about the argument.

And that is why Militant Atheism matters.

If we ever want to get public policy back on to the track of ‘Reason’ and genuine debate between the extreme positions in an attempt to sway the moderates – we need to remove the large class of people who would be moderate, but are pushed to extremes by absolute belief systems forced on to them by religious instruction that they have chosen to believe in.

When someone’s mind is locked in on a belief because of religion, then arguing the points of that belief is useless. You have to address the source of the belief itself – the actual religion.

Needless to say, this same point applies to Creationists inhibiting scientific education, anti-abortionists inhibiting reasonable social programs, people against stem cell research without understanding the science first…anti-euthanasia absolutists… etc Where religion has a position, people are forcibly influenced into that belief position too. Rational debate is therefore impossible, and social policy is improperly affected.

For the sake of a sensible, reasonable, progressive society which continues to IMPROVE – we must throw off the shackles of religion. Because one thing all of these religions have in common, is the absolute forbiddance of progress.

The Bible doesn’t come in wiki format.

Militant Atheism

To me, Militant Atheism is all about stopping the religious groups of our world from exerting their numerical powers and superstitious beliefs over political processes. I don’t care about Jehovah’s Witnesses coming to my door. I don’t care about friends and colleagues praying for me. I don’t care at all what people do in private, or even in public for that matter. What I do care about, is when laws are made which create injustice, inequity and force stagnation of knowledge, and those laws are made simply because too many people have been brainwashed into agreeing with those laws, because a mythology has been used to convince them of that position. Not reason. Not evidence. But mythology.

No longer should our advanced society allow itself to be hindered by mythology.

Further Information

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Splitting up Marriages – The Legal and Cultural Elements

I have a solution to the problems surrounding the ‘gay marriage’ issue. We acknowledge that ‘Marriage’ is a word steeped in cultural heritage and history – from a variety of sources (ie: no one culture has a monopoly on what marriage means). We then realise that this debate about whether gays can marry or not, is a political/legal debate. We then decide how we want to resolve these two Separate issues – the cultural side of things, and the legal side of things – in the most reasonable, considerate, fair way that we can.

Marriage is a Cultural/Social Phenomenon

You see, you don’t need the law in order to be married. I mean, not really – because if you are religious enough, then marriage only means something ‘in the eyes of God’. So who cares whether the state acknowledges your union or not? As long as you have a priest, and your family and friends present and you make a solemn promise to God, then you are married – right?

Similarly, what does ‘Marriage’ look like to someone who isn’t so religious, or better still, atheist? I think it looks more like a large party where you make a solemn promise to your friends and family that this relationship is very serious and will last a lountil you die (or not, as the case most likely will be). From the non-religious perspective, marriage is all about the social impact of it. The statement made by being wed, by wearing the rings, by referring to your partner as ‘husband’ or ‘wife’. It has nothing to do with God, but is equally powerful.

And in both of these cases – you do NOT need a legally binding document for it to be true. You can have your ‘wedding’, invite extended friends and family over for a party, say your ‘vows’, wear your rings and refer to your partner as ‘husband/wife and for all intents and purposes, you will be ‘Married’.

Legally ‘Married’?

So what does the legal document have to do with anything? I think that that part is becoming less relevent these days. ‘De Facto’ has had a big impact on the importance of being legally married, but even so being legally married does seem to streamline some legal issues for partners. More than anything, I think just signing the legal documents is just accepted as part of the wedding ceremony these days without thought. It is just what is done. But this is neither here nor there. People, when they get married, typically engage in the legally binding element of it as part of the course…except homosexuals. Because they aren’t worthy.

So why do they not get this one element? The state recognises that they are real couples – you can be defacto as a gay couple… So why not ‘married’ as a gay couple? What is the real difference?

The Religious Right Fights It

The religious right fights the idea of gay marriage bitterly, proclaiming marriage to be sacred and all that. But they are missing the point – they are trying to defend a cultural view of marriage from a legal aspect of marriage. As a matter of fact, the problem here seems to be that everyone wants to use the same word… The religious right of the USA and Australia (primarily christians) want to protect their view of what the word “Marriage” means to them, and since our legal system talks about “Marriage”, they seem to think they are talking about the same thing… but they aren’t.

People have been getting legally “Married” for a long time now without any mention of God in their ceremony – so the religious right have already lost their fight to save ‘the true meaning of marriage’ (as they see it) from the political system. It is over. Let go. So why the fascination with keeping gays out of the ‘marriage’ definition?

Here is the solution

The political system needs to change its language to reflect what role it plays. Signing that legal document does not make you ‘married’ – it does however make you legally bound as a couple. So, why not call the legal state a ‘Civil Union’.

Everyone, on their WEDDING day, signs a contract to enter into a CIVIL UNION as just one of the elements of the MARRIAGE.

The idea of making gays have a civil union, while everyone else gets married is just a form of segregation. But by accepting the fact that the legally binding document is no more a part of the wedding than the wedding cake is, we can have everyone treated equally, while simultaneously maintaining cultural heritage and pride.

ie: Under this new system, Christians can comfortably refer to christian couples in a civil union as ‘Married’ (because it was done correctly in the eys of God), while describing gay couples who are in a civil union as ‘unwed’ – because it isn’t a correct marriage (according to their beliefs) in the eyes of God.

Meanwhile, the gay couple will more than happily refer to themselves as ‘Married’, because they did everything that matters to them, with respects to ‘getting married’.

Civil Union is the legal state of being. Marriage is the cultural and social term individuals may or may not choose to use. No one will ever need to use that incredibly awkward phrase “Are you two getting civilly unionised?”

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Reply to Friend’s Note

This is really just a discussion I am having a with a friend, but this seemed like an easier place to post than in facebook.

I was going to try to reply to individual points one at a time, but re-reading it all, I am having trouble figuring out what should be directly replied to – particularly without seeming like I am nit-picking – so I think I need to attempt to provide a wholistic reply, and refer to points you have raised within the wholistic reply.

Firstly, it is worth approaching this from two different angles – 1. Believing God exists, and the bible is an accurate story about God, and 2. Believing men wrote the bible in an attempt to make sense of a confusing world and God has nothing to do with it.

Believing God Exists

I’ll start with this, because your post is from this angle, so I guess this is my reply to what you are saying:

If we believe God exists, then what you describe is just a complicated, confusing story which is hard to put together and make sense of. It sounds to me like God is just as flawed as his creation (which does actually make sense) – and is stumbling through this whole process trying to figure out how to do it. The global flood beind a great example of that (or the local flood – depending on how you want to interpret that), where he decided to start again…

I don’t understand how god can be a perfect loving and just being, yet simultaneously wipe out entire populations for disobeying him/making him unhappy/not pleasing him. I can understand someone lashing out while being in love – but the word ‘perfect’ doesn’t come to mind when that sort of acttion is committed. Psychotic, unhealthy love – yes. Perfect love. No.

so, something that doesn’t quite make sense to me is how an omnipotent God couldn’t see this coming

Absolutely this is a problem, and even creating the (incredibly unpopular) assumption that God cannot see the future doesn’t explain this problem away. I cannot see the future, but I can still predict a lot of human behaviour. You could try to argue that God hadn’t had experience with humans before, and so it would be more like me trying to predict betelguesian (alien) behaviour, but even so – the ‘omnipotent’ creator should be much smarter than I am…

The Point that I think I have to make here is that if you want to believe that God is real and the bible is mostly accurate as to what God has done – then you really have to drop the beleif that God is a Perfect,  Omnipotent, Omniscient, good, loving being. possibly all of the above. If you start to think of God just as ‘some guy who made our universe’ with some ability to interact and influence things, even loves us as his own children… then it all makes much more sense. But to put God on this ‘perfect’ pedestal, and then read the bible and see his actions and judgements – the two elements do not line up.

Believing the Bible is Fictional

This is where the problems arise. It is this perspective which causes Dawkins to say what he says. I find it is difficult to talk about the Bible from a disbelievers persepctive without coming across as arrogant or offensive to believers. While I find it very easy to presuppose that God exists and wrote the Bible, I have never found a believer who could easily disconnect from the ‘holiness’ of the bible well enough to really consider the remifictions of it being a work of fiction.

So instead, I am going to try something different. I am going to try to talk about Scientology, and use it to make points about the bible.

Scientology is easy for anyone to believe is fictional. It’s ‘holy book’ was written in recent history by a science fiction writer and its stories are just as far fetched and unbelieveable as any sci fi novel you have ever read.

So when this book proclaims that suffering is caused by pained alien souls infecting our psychie, and that we need to put ourselves through frequent expensive cleansing processes to remove these ‘thetans’, and that psychology and psychiatric medications (proven ones) are bad for us – it is right to disagree with Scientologists. It is right to point out that their reasoning for this belief comes from a work of fiction, and has no evidence in reality, or rational debate. It is right (morally) to observe that actions carried out as a consequence of their belief system can be very harmful to followers.

Concurrently, while observing these problems with the way their erroneously founded beliefs are causing harmful courses of action, the fact that “Xenu was really evil” has no bearing on the discussion. It is irrelevent how much the alien souls suffered when xenu blew them up. It has no bearing on the reality of the story, and the fact that the real world actions are being driven by a fairy tale.

And finally – a Scientologist would be very offended by what I just wrote. They would disagree, and feel confronted and attacked. They would disagree with my representation of the story. I missed the point. I don’t really understand it all etc. But those points – the subtle nuances of a belief system – mean absolutely nothing when the whole thing is a work of fiction, and real people are making real decisions based on that work of fiction. It also doesn’t matter one iota, if the work of fiction is “completely* internally consistent. In the end, how offended the belivers might get by being confonted with these facts is really unimportant when the fact that vulnerable people are being sucked in to a fairy tale, and using that fairy tale to decide important aspects of their lives – deciding towards the harmful options!

When you can see stories like this from the perspective of the non-believer, the problems and harm caused as a direct consequence of the beliefs are far more important and worthy of your attention than concern over the ‘offendedness’ felt by the believers as a result of your attention to it.

Scientology is actually hard to do – it doesn’t have very many offensive stand points that I know of. Catholicism is easy – like Tim Minchin said:

if you find me more offensive
Than the fucking possibility
That the Pope protected priests
While they were getting fucking fiddly
Then listen to me motherfucker
This here is a fact:
You are just as morally misguided
As that motherfucking, power hungry
Self-aggrandised bigot
In the stupid fucking hat.

Being concerned about offending believers should be far far second to concern about immoral and harmful actions conducted either in the name of, or because directly instructed to, or because of an indirect consequence of the belief derived from a fairy tale.

So, to try to bring this long story back around to the topic – when a non believer observes that a belief system fundamentally teaches people that simply ‘forgiving’ isn’t actually an option – that instead sacrifice of some sort is required – and judges that central theme to be morally reprehensible, I don’t think it matters how the story in question attempts to spin it – the idea is morally lacking.

A few other Points

bits of it are historical record (and a particularly accurate record at that)

The Da Vinci Code has some incredibly accurate history in it too. A 99% true story does not make the 1% that is wrong, true.

the secular academic consensus is that the bible is far and away the most reliable ancient historical document in existence (another another story). this means that the historical figure Jesus really did claim to be both God and saviour

Under no form of logic does that follow. No matter how well parts of the new testament have been lined up with verified parts of history, there is no way anyone can claim any sort of confidence about what jesus did or did not say, nor whether he actually existed or not. And while plenty of academics do think he did, there are plenty who do not. There is no consensus on it, and my understanding is – zero evidence for it outside of the bible (outside of ‘evidence’ from after his lifetime in the form of ‘discussion about’)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus

Also, I have a post under construction about the reasons for a Militant Atheism movement – explaining why Dawkins does what he does.

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Less Wrong

When comparing two differing opinions or world views, it is possible for both of those opinions to be technically “Wrong”, yet have one of those opinions significantly less valuable than the other. This is a reality which many people seem to misplace when analysing different philosophies, paradigms and arguments and one which I would like to rectify.

Let me explain this error in a bit more detail with a very straight forward example.

Assume that the mean wavelength of light visible in the earths sky is actually 487nm. Assume this is the objective fact, and thus all other numbers are wrong. We then ask two people to measure the wavelength of light and tell us what they think it is. The two independent answers we then recieve are 484nm and 673nm.

Technically, they are both ‘Wrong’, but they are not wrong to the same degree. One is significantly more wrong than the other. In fact, for practical purposes, one is ‘basically correct’ while the other is ‘dead wrong’. In essence, we have one person saying the sky is blue and another saying the sky is red. The fact that the ‘blue’ answer was not exactly correct does not make it equivalent to the red answer – and this analogy applies across the board.

It is possible to be more or less wrong about things, and the degree to which a statement is wrong matters!

Religion vs Science

It is absolutely true that scientifgic theories are traditionally wrong. They have been wrong constantly throughout history, and are probably full of errors more far reaching than any of us alive today can imagine. But they are less wrong than every other non-scientific theory ever invented, and continue to be less and less wrong all the time (in general).

I have seen the following reasoning used by religious apologists numerous times in the past – they imply or directly state that the errors of science in some way justifies their ongoing belief in the paradigms outlined in the bible, or held by their chosen church. They have ignored the fact that theories can be more or less wrong than other theories and thus they are assessing two vastly different qualities as equivalent.

One of the beautiful things about science is that it follows the same general pattern as any other progressive, evolving thing in the universe – it builds on previous knowledge, adds to that knowledge and generally improves (value call) with time. So from every generation to the next (at least since the enlightenment to now) we have manged to get our scientific theories to be less and less wrong all the time.

Religions on the other hand continue to maintain their original positions (generalising of course) that ‘God’ told them the answers to begin with and that there is no need to continue enquiring.

So what we end up with is something like this:

How science gets less wrong with time and religion doesn'tThey’re both wrong the whole time, but science just continues to get less wrong, while the religious perspective is still stuck on the same religious text and/or teaching which it was founded with.

Being less wrong is an important distinction to make.

Shane

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